By Chelsea Rose Moore
Dozens of Middleburg residents gathered to clean the town’s trash, cigarette butts, and recyclables, and give the town a little extra sparkle in preparation for spring. Sponsored by the Go Green Committee and the Middleburg Futures Group, the Middleburg Spring Clean Up was hosted at the Middleburg Community Center on Saturday, April 14. The Salamander Resort & Spa provided complimentary coffee, pastries, and lemonade for hard-working volunteers.
The cleanup attracted residents of all ages, even small children and teenagers, and drew involvement from longstanding citizens like Mayor Betsy Davis. Split into small groups, residents cleaned up Washington Street and surrounding side streets, from the Community Center to the Exxon station.
Residents enjoyed the morning cleanup, laughing, interacting, and turning the morning into a creative way to spend time with friends and neighbors. Everyone carried a deep desire for keeping the earth clean, and wanted to make a positive impact on the environment.
As a sustainability consultant, Lynne Kaye has been a member of the Go Green Committee for the past four years. She participated in the cleanup two years ago, and was surprised at the amount of cigarette butts she found (at last year’s cleanup, she said they collected close to 10 pounds of cigarette butts). She knew something needed to change. She pulled up a Google search and typed in, “What can you do with cigarette butts?” Her research led her to a company called Terra Cycle, an innovative recycling company converting the plastic butts into recycled plastic and using them to build items like park benches.
Kaye began an initiative to attach a black container to trash cans throughout the Town of Middleburg. With a cigarette sticker on the top, these containers are designed to keep 250,000 cigarette butts out of the streets each year. The butts will be sent to Terra Cycle for recycling. New as of April, you’ll notice these additions to trash cans on the streets of Middleburg.
“We want people to put their cigarette butts in there. Not in the streets, not in the parking lots, or in the grass,” she said, “They end up in the sewers and streams. They are really hazardous, and can even kill animals in the oceans. It’s the biggest thing littered every year.”
Rebecca Poston, Chair of the Go Green Committee, also participated in the clean-up. She noted that many Middleburg residents are committed to living healthy and green lives.
“You drive through other areas and you see trash all the time, and you don’t understand why [people] consider the earth a trash can,” said Poston, “We have such a beautiful little town, it’s just nice to have it pristine. It’s doable.” ML